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Much-delayed South St. Pete townhome development opens

Mark Parker



The Sixteenth Square Townhomes now offer 11 workforce homeownership opportunities in the South St. Pete Community Redevelopment Area. Photo provided.

A local development firm is celebrating the completion of its first workforce housing project, the Sixteenth Square Townhomes, and the homeownership opportunities it provides.

St. Petersburg-based Namaste Homes first proposed the project in late 2019. Plans underwent multiple changes as the developer and city officials partnered to address a then-burgeoning affordable housing crisis.

The 11 townhomes on the corner of 16th Avenue South and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street are now ready for residents. Frederic Samson, president of Namaste, expressed his excitement to open the long-awaited development’s doors.

“Now that we are at the finish line, we have a beautiful product to deliver,” Samson said. “We’re very proud of this project – it’s a great opportunity for homeownership.”

An interior view of the townhomes. All feature outdoor patios.

Namaste initially planned to build rental units. Samson said his firm purchased the land in the South St. Pete Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) and approached City Administrator Rob Gerdes for his thoughts on its future.

City officials agreed to provide $286,000 in tax increment financing if Namaste sold the 11 townhomes to those earning at or below 120% of the area median income (AMI). In 2020, that equated to $84,360 annually for a family of four.

However, construction costs soared by over 30%, and 120% of the AMI is now $104,280 for a four-person household. The project’s price tag spiked from $2.5 million to $4.08 million.

Samson noted that the pandemic and subsequent supply chain and labor shortages also presented hurdles. “We kept moving forward and looking for opportunities to bring the cost down but without taking away from any of the quality of the work,” he said.

“It’s not a big profit margin project for a developer, but it’s something that’s needed down there.”

In July, the city council unanimously approved allocating an additional $770,000 in TIF dollars from CRA coffers to see the project come to fruition. Namaste also increased the maximum sales price from $213,000 to $275,000.

However, the median home sale price in St. Petersburg is $475,000. Gerdes reiterated the administration’s focus on providing homeownership opportunities at the July meeting.

He also explained that Namaste could walk away from their agreement and sell the units at market rates. “Since we moved in that direction, to be frank, Namaste is the only one that has produced,” Gerdes said.

The city received something in return. Namaste reduced the project’s income limit to 100% of the AMI – $86,900 for a family of four. That is nearly $20,000 less than the previous cap.

In addition, Samson explained that Namaste only receives CRA funding as it sells homes to qualified buyers. “There was no money given to us to finish the project,” he said. “It was more of, ‘Let’s do something that’s going to make sense – and that will provide results.”

Frederic Samson, president of Namaste Homes.

The Sixteenth Square development now provides 11 three-bedroom, 2.5-bath townhomes encompassing 1,200 square feet. The average price is $271,000, lower than the allowable maximum.

Samson noted that those eligible for the city’s downpayment assistance program could purchase a home for around $210,000. Housing officials are now prequalifying potential buyers, which includes completing related classes.

“The city is really investing a lot to bring answers to the price increase issues,” he said. “I think what they’re doing is very positive. Homeownership is a great part of the American dream.”

Samson said Namaste already has “a few” buyers completing the qualification process; he hopes to see closings in early 2024. The company is also developing other projects on city-owned land.

Samson plans to announce a list of available and upcoming units in the coming months. He said Namaste recently completed 27 affordable and workforce single-family homes on small lots in Pinellas Park, and he believes the firm has found its niche with accessible housing.

“We definitely have the appetite to do more,” Samson said.





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  1. Avatar


    December 9, 2023at2:12 pm

    Wow. 11 units for $271,000. Not a very significant dent in the “affordable” housing issue.

    And…” those eligible for the city’s downpayment assistance program could purchase a home for around $210,000.” Yes, anyone needing affordable housing is not likely to have sufficient savings for a down payment, so that’s on the taxpayers too. “City officials agreed to provide $286,000 in tax increment financing” and “$770,000 in TIF dollars from CRA coffers” is taxpayers’ money that has been laundered through the govt system.

    Of course, in the end, the affordable housing issue will never be resolved because there is not enough taxpayers’ money to fund the number of units needed to hand out low-priced housing with downpayment assistance.

    We may not like it but elections have consequences, printing and handing out money from federal to state to local levels is the root cause of inflation and therefore higher interest rates. Affordable housing for everyone is simply not possible, PSTA will always be begging for more taxpayers’ money to stay solvent because they will never have sufficient ridership to justify their existence. Sunrunner was 100% paid for by taxpayers and fare revenues will never amount to more than 20% of operating expenses. Those same city officials crammed that $50 Million boondoggle down our throats with NO input from voters.

    How do you like inflation? Higher property taxes and insurance, another increase in St. Petersburg water bills (after a big one last year), Duke charging more for power, groceries up 20% over two years and yes, gas prices are temporarily down. Is that a reason to celebrate.

    Here’s a little-known fact: The national debt is now $34 Trillion, increased by both Trump and Biden (with equal abandon) and the interest alone is approaching $1 Trillion/year. With the increase in interest rates, that interest expense will go higher faster. Washington becomes more corrupt every year, regardless of who we elect. The Tea Party effort some years ago (2009) was an attempt to curb spending, some loved it, others not so much. It was an attempt that failed to move the tax and spend needle. That was 2009, look where we are today.

    So what are we doing about it in little old St. Petersburg? Nothing at all, we continue to elect those who would increase our taxes to have more to give (in the case of PSTA, waste) away for little to no effect.
    We do get what we deserve. Because we do not pay attention to voting, especially in local elections. Less than 40% of eligible voters turn out for local elections, often much less depending on the municipality.

  2. Avatar

    Tia parker

    December 9, 2023at5:38 am

    Low income families need this home ownership opportunity. I do. I’ve gone by. They seem narrow and tiny space , with city down payments assistance that’s great. How can someone qualify. ♥️❤️♥️♥️

  3. Avatar


    December 8, 2023at3:41 pm

    I read it and I’m not furious. What am I missing?

  4. Avatar


    December 8, 2023at12:28 am

    How do someone qualify

  5. Avatar


    December 7, 2023at9:08 pm

    How can anyone read this and not be furious?

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